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Here's what you should know about the International Driver's License

In practically all countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, drivers need an international driver's license.

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Here's what you should know about the International Driver's License

In practically all countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, drivers need an international driver's license. It is also recommended for the USA and other countries. It is always only valid in connection with the national driver's license, so it is worth nothing on its own. We explain where the international driver's license is required and how to get it.

If you are driving in the EU countries as well as in Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland and Turkey, you can save yourself the international driver's license. However, it is already becoming necessary in some countries in Eastern Europe: The ADAC recommends taking the international driver's license with you "absolutely" for Albania, Belarus, Moldova, Russia and the Ukraine.

When traveling outside of Europe, you should always have your international driver's license with you - if only to avoid communication problems with the car rental company and the police. Because the international driving license is also an English translation. In Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Namibia, South Africa, South Korea, Singapore and since 2021 also in Thailand, for example, it is even expressly mandatory to take it with you.

The ADAC also strongly recommends taking an international driving license with you when traveling to the USA. The police and car rental companies often do without the template. However, there is no obligation to recognize German driver's licenses in the USA. In addition, the legal situation in many US states is not clear. Florida and Kentucky are considered critical.

For Australia and New Zealand, the German driving license in combination with a certified translation is sufficient. Anyone who wants to drive a car in Japan needs a Japanese translation of the German driving license. The automobile clubs help with the translation.

A special feature are the requirements for Thailand. Since May 2021, the Kingdom has insisted that the International Driving Permit be modeled on the 1968 Vienna Convention. You should tell the office when you apply – even if only international driving licenses based on this model are issued in Germany anyway.

Speaking of the Vienna Convention: To be precise, there are even three treaties whose signatory states recognize each other's driving licenses as long as the driver carries a defined translation - the international driving license - with them in addition to the national one. However, the standards are not identical. In addition to the most common, the Vienna Convention of 1968, there is also the Geneva Convention on Motor Vehicles of 1949 and the Paris Convention of 1926, which, however, is only mandatory in Somalia.

The Geneva Convention has been ratified by 101 countries, this international driver's license is valid for one year. The Vienna Convention in the latest version from 2011 is recognized by 83 countries, the driver's license is valid for three years. The main countries that have not officially signed are China, Ireland, Iceland, Canada, Malta, Malaysia, the USA and Cyprus. Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland only issue international driving licenses under the 1968 Vienna Convention.

According to the ADAC, however, all the countries mentioned accept this without complaint – with the exception of the People's Republic of China. China does not recognize international driving licenses at all. If you want to drive there, you have to take a new driving test.

It can also be difficult in Indonesia - the international driver's license is only recognized in Bali. In Qatar, the international driving license is only valid for seven days. In the United Arab Emirates and Sri Lanka, the International Driving Permit must be exchanged for a local driving licence. Cost: 50 euros.

If you do not yet have an EU driving license card, but still have the pink or even the very old gray driving license, you must first update to the current document.

If you now live somewhere else and can no longer go to the authority that issued your old paper driver's license, you will also need a so-called register extract from the authority that originally issued it. This usually works informally, the certificate costs nothing and is sent by post.

Check whether your driver's license authority offers the application for the international driver's license for download. Then you can fill it out at home. However, you may not send the completed application back by e-mail.

Because the international driver's license must be applied for in person. The best way to do this is to make an appointment with the driving license authority. In smaller towns, the Citizens’ Registration Office is responsible. Anyone who already has an EU driving license can also authorize another person. However, they must also appear in person.

For the appointment you need a current passport photo, the driver's license card and the application. The international driver's license costs between 12.20 euros and 16.30 euros, depending on the federal state.

Be sure to plan plenty of time. If you still have an old paper driving licence, it can take up to five weeks before you receive the new card driving licence. The international driver's license itself, on the other hand, will be handed over to you immediately at your appointment at the driver's license authority. It is valid for three years. It cannot be extended.

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